This weekend saw the Download Festival 2014, at Donington Park in Leicestershire. I’ve mentioned before that the link between Donington and rock music – as well as aviation and motor racing – made it an attractive place for me to work for several years, and to live nearby, and so Download means that I can enjoy a series of bands and the festival lifestyle without actually needing to camp. The joys of a warm bed and a hot shower.
Donington was home to the Monsters of Rock festival for many years – in fact, my first visit to Castle Donington was for Monsters of Rock 1996 – and the current Download Festival is effectively the current incarnation of that event. The festival takes place at Donington Park, the race circuit, with the surrounding land being used for the various stages, car parks, camping areas, and related infrastructure. Bands play for three days now, a Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with the main focus being rock and heavy metal. That said, I’ve seen some bands that are far from heavy over the years at Download, notably the Plain White Ts. I took a few photos, but spent more time enjoying the music than documenting the event. My only camera was on my phone, so the quality of the pictures is not quite at the level that I would like, but hopefully give you an idea of the event.
I enjoy going to watch bands from my youth, and bands that I listened to in my youth, at Donington, but also like finding new bands and talent that I have not previously heard of. This year, The Treatment were a revelation for me, playing in the Pepsi Max tent, or third stage, on Sunday afternoon. Good rock n roll music, and I enjoyed that so much that Download shared my thoughts from the main stage with those gathered to wait for the next band.
The next band up was Volbeat, who I also enjoyed more than I expected, although their cover of Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire was as much a highlight as any of their own work.
I also got to see The Pretty Reckless again, who also fall into the category for me of a band discovered at Donington. I had seen them whilst waiting for another act a few years ago, and was really impressed, and have seen them since at other gigs, so took the opportunity to watch their set on the second stage. As always, an entertaining performance, and for me, one of the best of the weekend. It’s a rare thing for me to know the words of most of the repertoire of a recent band, but I found myself able to join in.
Taylor Momsen, the band’s lead singer, was so keen to put on a good show that she bent over backwards to help..
Download – and similar festivals – also help to inform me that I actually like some acts much more than I expect. Twisted Sister performed this year, a band I had first seen a few years ago at Download, and who I enjoyed much more than I expected. Their carefully and well choreographed show was entertaining and fun, and had the whole crowd singing along to the likes of “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.
Steel Panther also made an appearance on the bill. I had seen them previously, and whilst I enjoy their 80s sounding pepostrous glam sound, I’m not a fan of their more risqué lyrics. Think of a version of Spinal Tap parodying the hair bands of the 1980s, but with songs that go one step further and sound one level more rude. However, their hair reminded me of what I looked like in my late teens. A very different look from what I sport now.
The main headliners for the three evenings were Avenged Sevenfold, Linkin Park, and most notably for me, Aerosmith. It’s more than 20 years since I first saw Aerosmith, and found them to be remarkably entertaining and having a great stage show, although each time I have seen them since has not quite lived up to that first show. I’m not sure if their live show has got worse, if I have seen more gigs to compare against, or if I just happened to go to a really good gig. Whatever the case, the almost two hours that made up their performance on Sunday evening was certainly good, but not quite as good as that evening in the early 1990s…
As Aerosmith finished up, it was the end of another Download, which for me had again been a generally friendly and good humoured affair in the Leicestershire countryside. I’m already looking forward to see who appears on the 2015 line up.